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Don't Get Around Much Anymore by George Barnes Quartet

The fine SF Bay Area label Acoustic Disc unearthed this live set, the last known recordings of legendary electric jazz guitarist George Barnes - and if you don’t let on that the presence of two electric guitars goes a bit outside of the label’s stated-by-their-very-name parameters, then, Dear Reader, neither shall I. The late Mr. Barnes (1921-1977) was one of the very first and greatest of jazz's electric guitarists, who played with everyone from to Louis Armstrong to Tony Bennett, and this recording at Concord, CA’s Willow Theater captures him in superb form. (If you think you haven’t heard Barnes before, you’re probably wrong - aside from his jazz work, that’s him playing on Bobby Vinton’s "Blue Velvet" and Jackie Wilson’s "Lonely Teardrops.") The late 70s were not great years popularity-wise for mainstream jazz, let alone diehard swing players, but apparently nobody told Barnes, as he plays with a scintillating tone and fleet-fingered, vibrant verve. Unlike a lot of the bebop- and cool-school players that came in his wake who favored a, well, cool approach and tone, Barnes was brash and mercurial, more like hot jazz and Swing Era horn players. (Aside from blues/jazz guitarist Lonnie Johnson, Barnes’ earliest influences were cornetist Bix Beiderbecke, clarinetist Jimmy Noone and alto sax icon Johnny Hodges.) His style was demonstrative and hard-swinging, and even though he was unrestrained by the limits of old time studio limitations (as he came of age during the age of the three-minute song limit), he was a fine "editor" of his own playing. All but one of the 15 tunes here are about four minutes in length - he was of that generation of jazz players who didn’t feel the need to solo for 17 minutes at a shot to make his point. The set list consists of rather hackneyed Swing Era standards n’ warhorses like "Sweet Georgia Brown" and "Moonglow," but Barnes’ Quartet tackles them like they were brand new. The sound quality here is crisp and clear, capturing every nuance. Don’t Get Around.... ought to make the shopping lists of both Barnes fans in particular and guitar fanatics in general.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: George Barnes Quartet
  • CD Title: Don't Get Around Much Anymore
  • Genre: Straight-Ahead / Classic
  • Year Released: 2002
  • Record Label: Acoustic Disc
  • Musicians: G. Barnes, Duncan James: electric guitar; Dean Reilly: acoustic bss; Benny Barth: drums. Recorded 7/27/77.
  • Rating: Four Stars
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